Local planting 100 elms across Rockport

Michael Cronin, Gloucester Daily Times, Mass.
·2 min read

Apr. 13—ROCKPORT — Want a new tree for your yard? Project Elm has you covered.

The community group formed by Rockport resident Nathan Ives recently received a $6,000 grant from Awesome Rockport to purchase 100 small elm saplings to give away for free.

According to the Project Elm's grant application, the project seeks to take "a proactive step to help reverse global climate change."

Ives, while on his way to plant another batch of trees Monday, told Times over the phone that he also hopes the project will bring back the Rockport he knew as a youth.

"I grew up on Norwood Avenue and it was like cathedral of elms there," he said. "I witnessed the tragic loss when elms disease took it all away."

Towards the end of the 1950s, a pandemic of Dutch Elm disease killed off many of the elms across the nation. Project Elm's trees are bred to have a higher resistance to the disease.

Typically, Awesome Rockport gives away $1,000 grants for local projects. However, according to Ives, Awesome Rockport founder Sal Zerilli liked the project so much that he decided to throw in an extra $5,000.

"He was such a tremendous help," Ives explained. "When I just started out, I had a hard time getting rid of the first 20. Luckily, he had a whole network of people and eventually word spread. Now I have a wait list that I'm filling out now."

Lydia Owen, a resident of Quarry Ridge Lane, was waiting for her tree to be planted Monday afternoon. She said she first heard about Project Elm on the Good Morning Gloucester podcast.

"They have a whole spot picked out, and they come by and plant it for you too," she continued. "I'm really interested in trees. My nephew is a licensed arborist, so we share that interest. .

Only a very few number of saplings are still available. When fully grown, the elms may reach heights of up to 80 or 90 feet. Project Elm's only requirement is that their trees must planted on a street-facing side of one's property.

Donations are also being accepted so Project Elm can purchase more trees to give out.

Ives may contacted at 978-290-8622 for more information.

Michael Cronin may be contacted at 978-675-2708, or mcronin@gloucestertimes.com.